Navigating the Path of Totality

Engaging learners in the excitement of solar eclipse events & scientific discovery.

Image of the moon eclipsing the sun and the resulting 360 degree sunset on the horizon with the telescope and video production unit for the live broadcast in the foreground - Cerro Tololo International Observatory, Chile - July 2, 2019

Team Mission

Navigating the Path of Totality is a public education program using the opportunity of the annular solar eclipse of 2023 and the total solar eclipse of 2024 as platforms for sparking public engagement and learning about the Sun, heliophysics, and the STEM content related to both. Working with NASA Subject Matter Experts (SME) and with other NASA Science Activation partners, the Exploratorium’s team of scientists, educators and media producers leverage the dramatic experience of solar eclipse events to engage students, educators, and the public at large in the excitement of scientific discovery.

Inquiry is the [set] of behaviors involved in the struggle of human beings for reasonable explanations of phenomena about which they are curious.

Novak, 1964

Novak, 1964

At the core of this project are live broadcasts/webcasts/mobile apps of telescope images of each eclipse along with educational programming in English and Spanish. These live streams provide the backbone upon which complementary educational resources and activities are built and delivered. As a freely available resource, the live streams also provide the baseline content for hundreds of educational efforts provided by other science-rich institutions including museums, planetariums, schools, community-based organizations, libraries and other venues. Media platforms such as NASA TV and NASA online, media outlets such as CNN, MSNBC and ABC, online news and educational websites and social media channels stream the eclipse broadcasts as part of their own educational programming. Exploratorium-produced live broadcasts of celestial events have been used this way for over 23 years. These live broadcasts have become relied upon educational infrastructure during total solar eclipses for institutions and individuals alike.

What does your team hope to achieve?

The key project objectives are:

  • Production – Utilize the experience of eclipse livestreams in combination with education programs and on-demand video that uses SMD assets to engage the public in exploring the science and wonder of a compelling natural event as well as to develop tools to increase the capacity and efficacy of STEM educators and media producers to engage learners of all ages in formal and informal learning environments.
  • Programs – Advance public awareness of the concepts underlying the eclipse event, the features of living with a star and the process of NASA scientific exploration, using SMD heliophysics assets to tell the Sun-Earth system story.
  • Diversity – Cultivate and engage U.S. audiences that are underrepresented in STEM fields, particularly Latinos and Native Americans.
  • Partners – Leverage webcast programs and telescope-only dissemination efforts through robust and established Science Activation partnerships. Contribute to the collective knowledge and best practices of the Science Activation network ecosystem.

Project Website